Eclipse Attacks on Bitcoin's Peer-to-Peer Network

September 15, 2016
2:50 - 4pm
Halligan 102
Speaker: Ethan Heilman, Boston University
Host: Ming Chow


We will first provide a background on Bitcoin and then present eclipse attacks on bitcoin's peer-to-peer network. Our attack allows an adversary controlling a sufficient number of IP addresses to monopolize all connections to and from a victim bitcoin node. The attacker can then exploit the victim for attacks on bitcoin's mining and consensus system, including N-confirmation double spending, selfish mining, and adversarial forks in the blockchain. We take a detailed look at bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network, and quantify the resources involved in our attack via probabilistic analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, measurements and experiments with live bitcoin nodes. Finally, we present countermeasures, inspired by botnet architectures, that are designed to raise the bar for eclipse attacks while preserving the openness and decentralization of bitcoin’s current network architecture.

Bio: Ethan is a PhD student in the Boston University Security Group (BUSEC) of the Computer Science Dept. His research interests are: cryptocurrencies, network security, and cryptanalysis. His most recent projects have been related to internet routing and Bitcoin.